Why or How does Apple TV compare to Comcast/Direct Tv?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Dorfdad, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2007
    Can someone with some knowledge please explain what advantages the Apple TV has over cable or satellite providers if any? I can only think on one and that the ability to listen to your music and photos IF you have your PC on..

    I mean Comcast and Direct TV offers 1080i and 720p downloads for movies, Apple maxes at 720p I believe..Both offer immediate streaming of movies, and 24 hour rentals just like Apple TV. They offer more movies, and faster release dates many same day as DVD.

    but for some reason i still find myself wanting one but can not justify it.... I also use my PS3 to stream any divx content and music, and photos to my 57DLP so im not sure I would even gain anything from :apple:TV???
  2. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Unless they've changed recently (we dumped DirecTV two weeks after getting our ATV over a year ago) they broadcast in low bitrate MPEG2. MPEG4 with H.264 if substantially better at a given bitrate. I can only comment on their 720 content and I can tell you that HD content for the ATV is a lot nicer than those MPEG2 broadcasts. The problem, though, is the lack of HD content for the ATV. We're all waiting for the BluRay version of Handbreak to come out. :D
  3. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    DTV is in the process of shutting off most of the MPEG2 feeds in favor of... MPEG4, though not H.264. DTV also has 90 HD channels in their lineup and 78 local markets served by HD locals.

    As is usual with Satellite, the bitrate is low, so for the SD MPEG4 channels, iTunes SD content looks a lot better. So much so that for some shows I know my kids will watch again and again I'll buy them on iTunes for better quality and most importantly no third party product commercials.

    The HD channels however are pretty decent, with few obvious artifacts.

  4. macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2006

    I have comcast and appletv.

    Like-for-like comparisons:

    Atv interface is of course way better and the HD picture quality is similar (I'd say a little better on comcast). I just feel better paying apple for my rentals than comcast.

    Content needs to grow a lot on atv, and I think it will. At that point it will certainly be better.

    Unique to atv:

    I own a 50" DLP so what I like most about atv at the moment is the ability to go through our photo's on the big screen. Pretty cool.

    I like how it acts as another streaming source for my music. It's like having another airport express. I actually use this feature quite a bit.

    The youtube function is actually kind of fun, especially for my kids.

    We own four macs and four ipods so it's nice for us to actually purchase movies/shows on our powermac and now we stream them to atv for our big screen.

    I really like my atv.
  5. macrumors member

    Feb 11, 2008
    I have Comcast with On Demand and :apple:tv, and here are some basic comparisons IMHO:

    I believe Comcast On Demand has more content for movies. :apple:TV has more content on TV Shows, except it does not have HBO, which is obviously not available on :apple:TV.

    Also, Comcast On Demand has free movies available. :apple:TV does not. However, the price point for the paid movies on Comcast on Demand is higher. I saw that most first run movies on Comcast on Demand are $4.99 (at least in my area). Also, one first run movie was $6.99 (I wish I could remember which one).

    I find the quality evens out for both. My main problem with the quality on :apple:TV is in scenes that are black or dark, there is a bit of weird effect. But it does not bother me that much. This is more pronounced on the HD content. But when it is a normal lighting scene in HD :apple:TV outshines Comcast on Demand.

    :apple:TV gives you the ability to stream your music, it also has podcasts and YouTube. You can also show your pictures and access .mac or flickr accounts. This to me gives an advantage to :apple:TV that Comcast or Direct? TV will never have.

    Overall, I really love my :apple:TV. But I enjoy having the flexibility of Comcast on Demand (mainly for HBO).

    If you could buy movies on :apple:TV, and figure out a way to watch HBO (not the podcasts), then :apple:TV would provide a tremendous advantage over Comcast On Demand for recorded content.

    Go for it, please buy it, and increase the :apple:TV community.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Newton, MA
    First, when comparing services, it would be nice if they offered the same kinds of things...

    Things Apple TV does that you may not have considered:
    • Shifts your music to your living room.*
    • Shifts your photos/images/artwork to your HDTV.*
    • Provides you with an easy interface to all podcasts, HD video ones as well as all audio ones. This does not require a computer at all. You can stream directly from the ITMS or download these podcasts for later enjoyment.
    • If you have a collection of films on DVD, you can digitize them by ripping and encoding them, and then stream/sync them for immediate access.
    • Purchase music/TV Shows directly from your Apple TV. These are synced back to your computer for backup and re-distribution to other satellite devices (iPods, iPhones).

    Things that Apple TV does NOT do that comcast/DirecTV do:
    • Live broadcast.

    *If you sync, which I do, you don't need to have your computer on with iTunes running.
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2007
    thanks for all the input I think I need to hold off on :apple:TV for the time being as like a said I have a Playstation 3 and it does all of those features already movies, divx, stream images, play games :) etc.. Only thing it does not do it sell music or movies yet..

    I think an Apple TV is in my future especially if I can get somekind of subscription model for tv shows etc.. Like pay $25.00 a month and get unlimited TV shows streamed etc.. That would make my comcast service useless except for HBO...

    Does Apple TV have a web browser? If so does Hulu.com work on it?
    might tip it in my favor!
  8. macrumors 68000


    Jun 14, 2003
    I have Verizon FiOS and they just raised their rentals of new movies up to $5 a pop. So I will be getting an Apple TV soon.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2008
    I also have DirecTV and am looking at appleTV as an alternative. Their HD system offers a range of features including media serving, but is lacking in:

    1. Poor performance with HD content - picture breakups, audio dropouts. Some people are lucky not to have this, but I do.
    2. On Demand feature does not yet have HD offerings, nor any network or HBO content.

    With AppleTV - where do you go to find out what is available? How do the rentals work - is there a certain window to view them? is anything you rent/purchase on appleTV also availabe via iTunes to the iPod and iPhone and vice versa?
  10. macrumors member

    Jeff Hall

    Apr 10, 2006
    The HD movie rental experience with Apple TV blows away DirecTV's pay-per-view:

    1. Better video quality (not as compressed)
    2. Better audio (not as compressed)
    3. Watch ON YOUR SCHEDULE, NOT PPV's! (you don't have to wait for the next showing)
    4. Much easier to place an order.

    I love DirecTV, but not for movie rentals. I'm using my Apple TV more and more for the video podcast shows (like Diggnation). The HD podcasts are really cool.

    I can't substitute satellite with my Apple TV because I want the live sporting events in HD, and watch a lot of Sci-Fi/Discovery stuff.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2008
    With a DVR, you can record a PPV and watch it on your own schedule. But, your other points are noted!

    I answered some of my questions, watched the overview video. But just to clarify - does apple TV access the same library as what is available in the iTunes store?

    Are there any other methods to watch rentals (HD) from iTunes besides the apple TV unit - such as directly connecting the computer?
  12. macrumors 65816

    Jun 5, 2005
    Colorado Springs / Ohio
    So it'll take 230 rentals on the :apple:TV before you start saving money... $1 off doesn't seem like enough of a reason to buy one unless you really like all the other features.
  13. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    How much a month is your DirecTV or cable service? That cost is in addition to your rentals. We ended DirecTV service 13 months ago and that $650 in savings went to an Apple TV ($300) and Elgato EyeTV Hybrid ($140). It's a pretty simple equation - renting HD from Apple is much more cost effecting than having to pay for 80 channels when we only watched fewer than 10 on a regular basis. I buy The Daily Show and we rent a couple of movies each month.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2008
    I hear ya, and that's why I'm exploring. But the equation can get more complex depending on what the user needs and wants. Doesn't Elgato run on a computer? You have to figure that in, not to mention local channels, news, sports, etc - all valid reasons people have sat or cable TV.

    I think for many of us, there are a lot of options, but few offer a single solution.
  15. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    You can't have an ATV without a computer.

    Yes, our EyeTV picks up several HD stations with our attic antenna.

    Yes, no doubt. We had DirecTV from 1995 until 2006. At an average of $400 a year - well, you get the (financial) picture. They won't get another penny from me.
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2008
    If that's the case, is the apple TV box even needed? Couldn't you just get a dedicated media computer, and hook that up to the TV? Or is the hardware required for HD content?

    That's what's confusing me about this. Are you getting the same download, file format, file size, resolution, if you are using Apply TV or just getting it in iTunes and watching it on your computer?
  17. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Sure, you could. But a stand-alone computer solely for video/audio would be rather large, expensive and more cumbersome than an ATV. The ATV is really the iPod for your TV/stereo.

    The HD movies from Apple can only be downloaded directly to the ATV, not to your computer. You can rent SD movies from either your ATV or computer.

    We usually get our movies or TV shows from our library's DVD collection, then put them on the serving computer with Handbrake. For example, this last week I picked up "Star Trek Enterprise" (season 1), "Talladega Nights" and "Knocked Up" from the library. Once we watch them (which may be soon or not) we just delete them from our hard drive. I have about 20 movies and 6 or 7 TV series on our computer that I'm hoping to get to in the next couple of months. With the ATV, the whole family can watch on the TV. Not such a pleasant experience in front of my tiny 24" DVI computer display.

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